Hey G —
Always appreciate your feedback, too. And it’s important to keep everything in context. Have you seen Ava DuVarney’s “The 13th”? Saw it last night. Much I know. Much you know. And touched on some of what you talked about, and an area I’m concerned as it shows the clear intersection of race & class: Bond reduction. (They focused on one individual who couldn’t pay his bond and wasn’t getting a trial; and paid the ultimate price.) The gist: “Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is calling for a change in Illinois law so that his office can ask for bond reductions for poor, non-violent jail detainees.” Where else can we go in Cook County or the United States to keep people out of jail, G-Kummel? It’s one of those things: On the Macro, it sounds ridiculous that 5% of the world’s population houses 25% of people in prison. On a Micro level, I honestly believe a vast majority have earned — often with repeated arrests and the difficulty to be prosecuted — to be in jail. I know that’s not often a popular opinion in some circles. I still think we should find JOBS for them when they leave. And we must end sentencing that is too harsh. I’m just flustered there’s very real clear data we can all agree. (Like what % of people are in prison from mandatory sentences.)
We all know about the 10% difference in sentencing higher for blacks than whites for the same crime. (So I may get 9 years, and someone else doing the same crime who is black will get 10.) That’s wrong. That looks like racism. That I first saw on Wikipedia.
But what do you say to this, when we talk about “racist sentencing” and laws. Incarceration has increased. Disparities really haven’t changed that much since Eisenhower, with black men six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated, according to Pew Research. And that is nearly the same difference as in 1960, because based on the Pew data, from 1960 to 2010:
- Black male incarceration increased 3.3 times
- White male incarceration increased 2.6 times
- Hispanic male incarceration increased 2.9 times
- Black female incarceration increased 3.4 times
- White female incarceration increased 8.2 times (!!! Racism!!!)
- Hispanic female incarceration N/A
And guess what: Crime was tripling, and incarceration was tripling (and then some). The question is now: What’s affecting the drop? Lead, abortion, or just plain-old “we locked up the bad guys”?
I don’t know about you, but this feels like it punches a hole in the theory that the War on Drugs and “Three Strikes” laws are are blatantly racist. The increases are fairly uniform except for, interestingly enough, white women. From the sexism of the kitchen jail cell to real jail cell; a.k.a. orange jumpsuits are as relevant to white women are they are to black women. (Or are they?)
Also, the money-for-fighting jail issue popped up in this 2nd media I digested this weekend:
What O. J. Simpson Means to Me, by TA-NEHISI COATES:
What O. J. Simpson Means to Me
His great accomplishment was to be indicted for a crime and then receive the kind of treatment typically reserved for…
Simpson, who had turned his back on race men while making millions selling himself as inoffensive to middle-class white people, didn’t hesitate to empower one of them now that his life was on the line. Thus the Simpson defense team presented an ironic alchemy — an activist tradition that Simpson had rejected, fueled by funds that he’d garnered rejecting it. “O.J. had money to spend and a willingness to spend it on his own defense,” one of Simpson’s lawyers, Carl Douglas, says to Edelman. “This was a first for me.”
So yes, money intersects with race.
Yes, past and current segregation, Jim Crow, White Flight (favorite book in college by William Julius Wilson, one of few academics I can still recall by name) — all these are factors. What is one of the ways we can break up segregation? I’ve wondered that for 12 years in Chicago.
I firmly find the PAST has led to the BEHAVIOR that shapes outcomes with law enforcement more than BEHAVIOR. I don’t subscribe to cliches like “a few bad apples,” and I certainly believe in the Blue Code of Silence. But I find it more nuanced than some; though I’m still critical of it. Truth is Truth. And needs to have light shone on it.
I also don’t directly attack Black Lives Matter, but much of the rhetoric I don’t agree with. And I do think the rhetoric has led to police deaths AND vastly more black and brown deaths in the years since Ferguson? How? Well, I’ll get there sometime; but with 1000+ MORE black people dying this year, and nearly the same # the year before (10% and 13% annual increases respectively, and 52% of homicide victims are black, approximately), that’s a lot more than the 250 total killed by police who are black. And around the SAME total of ALL people killed by police (1000). Now, we’ve had dozens of stories about police injustice and under 5% unemployment (not counting under-employed), but there’s SOMETHING going on that few are talking about besides FBI Director James Comey. I will: Why aren’t there more academic and media journals (besides conservative ones) looking into a possible Ferguson Effect? Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but I frankly think there’s a lot of heads in sands around this. What else explains dramatic spikes in Chicago and Baltimore?
And this happened today. Says the president of the international order of police in an apology to our country: “For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color…It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.”
I’m going to bet that’s not enough for some. As I’m pretty much with him. It’s the historical that matters. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the Drug War that is among the most harmful policies (hey, agreeing with Libertarian Gary Johnson there). Again, the Chief ignores that, but it’s also 20% of our total prison population (outside county/city jails): “There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state, and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans.”
I’ll never say Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter. Flag waving a color doesn’t solve our problems. Dispassionate, agnostic honesty does. Until someone explains how
- police are killing 1 out of 300,000 people and so are ALL USA cops;
- cop shootings are .5-.7% of all shootings in the city;
- cops shoot, pull over, and stop black Chicagoans at the SAME %rate as 911 call suspects (a little over 70%; thanks again, Slavery & Jim Crow)
I will continue to deeply question Chicago Police Task Force and Justice Department reports — and the media that responds unquestionably without context — statements like these: “[Chicago Police data] Gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”
David October 17, 2016
(Sources for any above available upon request)